New Year expedition to South Africa, the Kingdom of Lesotho and Swaziland: Blyde River Canyon, Limpopo Province, the Big Five and South Africa's highest point, Thabana Ntlenyana

South Africa + Lesotho + Eswatini

December 24, 2022 - January 5, 2023
Tour South Africa

New Year tour South Africa the Kingdom of Lesotho Swaziland Blind River Canyon Limpopo Province the Big Five South Africa Tabana Ntlenyana Lesotho тур в ЮАР


тур в ДР Конго Уганду Руанду,
For the new year we will make an escape to the most remote and one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Going to South Africa, we will discover unexplored settlements, which still preserve centuries-old traditions and customs of the "rainbow nation". During the expedition we will get acquainted with the animistic beliefs and rituals of the Venda, Swazi, Zulu and Basuto peoples. We will eat their food, listen to local stories and songs, and be entertained by their music.
Beyond the cultural, we will discover natural diversity around us - discovering the tea plantations and green hills, sacred lakes and forests, in savannah and jungle, on wild white beaches and high in the mountains.

The expedition will be led by a traveling journalist and an enthusiastic ethnographer.

Explore the beautiful city of Cape Town, washed by the waters and winds of the Atlantic Ocean?
Go on a jeep safari in the Kruger National Park, home to the African Big Five and the largest concentration of wildlife?
See one of the deepest and most beautiful canyons in the world, the Blyde River Canyon?
Visit the southernmost point of the African continent - Cape Agulhas and the famous Cape of Good Hope?
Taste high quality South African wine in the finest Stellenbosch vineyards?
Or maybe even dive into a cage with white sharks?

The program also includes an ascent to the legendary Table Mountain, an adrenaline rush in the extreme amusement park Tsitsikama and much more!

SCHEDULE & COST:
Dates: December 24, 2022 - January 5, 2023

Duration: 13 days / 12 nights

Number of participants: 8 - 12

Cost per person:

- $2 540 for 11 to 12 participants, or
- $2 640 for 10 participants, or
- $2 790 for 8 - 9 participants

10% discount if you book early (by August 24, 2022)

Everything is included, except:

- International flight to and from Johannesburg
- international medical insurance
- South African and Eswatini visas (not required for Russian citizens),
- visa for Lesotho ($150, electronic visa. It may not be necessary to obtain it to visit Lesotho)
- partly lunches and dinners.
Approximate cost of the flight Moscow - Johannesburg - Moscow: $900 - $1100 (usually purchased independently, we consult).



TRAVEL PROGRAM: Tour South Africa
Day 1. December 24, 2022, Saturday. Pretoria, South Africa

Meet and greet at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB, Johannesburg). Transfer to the hotel in the center of Pretoria, one of the three capitals of South Africa. Rest / free time during which we are exploring the city. In the evening, dinner at a restaurant with local cuisine, including ostrich, crocodile, or antelope steaks.

* Recommended flight from Moscow to Johannesburg:
- Etihad Airways with a connection in Abu Dhabi, departing Moscow at 12:35 a.m. Dec. 23, arriving in Johannesburg at 8:15 a.m. Dec. 24,
- by Qatar Airways with connection in Doha, departing from Moscow at 6:10 pm on December 23, arriving in Johannesburg at 9:40 am on December 24
- by Ethiopian Airlines with connection in Addis Ababa, departure from Moscow at 22:50 on December 23, arrival in Johannesburg at 13:05 on December 24,
- or any other flight arriving in Johannesburg no later than 13:00 on December 24.

Accommodation: RH Hotel Pretora 3* (or similar)
Meals included: no


Day 2. December 25, 2022, Sunday. Pretoria - Limpopo Province

Breakfast. Departure to the remote Southpansberg Mountains of Limpopo Province, where, between tea plantations and forests, is the tribal territory of the Venda people (5-6 hours driving). We will stop at one of the traditional settlements located in the valleys of this subtropical region; we will explore an area where a visitor rarely sets foot. We will have the privilege of seeing the villagers perform traditional music and dance.
In the evening, the Vendas will treat us to a traditional dinner. Among other things, we will be able to taste the mopane caterpillars, which the people love to eat.

Accommodation: in thatched adobe huts (with beds, linens, and a bathroom).
Meals included: breakfast and dinner


Day 3. December 26, 2022, Monday. The people of the Vendas

The surrounding landscape plays a huge role in the traditional belief system of the Vendas. Lake Funduzi is the most sacred place - the Vendas believe that it is home to the White Python, the god of fertility, and water spirits. To visit the lake, we must obtain permission from the tribal leader. As new arrivals, we will be required to turn our backs to the water and look at it between our legs, according to a ritual known as ukodola.
Also we will walk through the Tathe Vonde, a sacred Afromontanian forest where the Venda royal family is buried; it is forbidden to enter without special permission and rituals. We will see the Phiphidi Waterfall, in the basin of which the Vendas make offerings to the spirits.
In the afternoon we will say goodbye to the Venda people to continue our journey. Overnight in a lodge on the border of Kruger National Park.

Accommodation: Casa Leitao Lodge (or similar).
Meals included: breakfast

Day 4. December 27, 2022, Tuesday. Kruger National Park

The whole day our path will go through the Kruger National Park, one of the largest in the world. The park is considered a natural treasure trove of the planet. It has no competitors for biodiversity. We will look with all our eyes and maybe in a day we will see the whole " Big Five " (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo).

Accommodation: A Forever Resort 3-4* chalet (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast

Day 5. December 28, 2022, Wednesday. Blyde River Canyon

At sunrise we get a great view of Blyde River Canyon, the third-largest canyon on the planet. After exploring the area we drive to the border with the Eswatini (4-5 hour). We will go through customs formalities, reach Lobamba, and check in to the hotel.

Accommodation: Happy Valley Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast


Day 6. December 29, 2022, Thursday. Swati people (ESWATINI)

We set off to discover the customs and traditions of the Swati people. On the way we will stop in the town of Manzini: we will walk through the market, visit a shop with medicines for all diseases, and try the local breakfast "inkwanva". Afterwards, drive to the Shiselweni region, visit the local community, learn about the system of primary education, and experience the daily way of life. In the evening, together with the Swati we will sit around the campfire and enjoy a traditional dinner.
Overnight in local huts on grass mats (mattresses and sleeping bags are also provided), bucket showers.

Accommodation: local hive huts
Meals included: breakfast and dinner


Day 7. December 30, 2022, Friday. St. Lucia and the turtle hunt

We continue toward the picturesque South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, dominated by the Zulu tribal group (5-6 hours driving). We go through customs formalities. On the way we stop in St. Lucia, through the streets of which hippos often walk. The settlement is located on the territory of wetlands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After sunset, in the company of an expert, take a trip to a wild beach in search of nesting giant turtles and hatchlings going into the ocean (the only major site of its kind in Africa). On the way, we'll stop for a snack under the stars.

Accommodation: 3* hotel in St. Lucia
Meals included: breakfast and dinner

Day 8. December 31, 2022, Saturday. St. Lucia to Richards Bay. New Year's Day
After breakfast - free time which we can devote to snorkeling, boat or horse safari, dolphin or shark watching, bat cave hike or other activities of your choice. Then transfer to Richards Bay and check into the hotel where we will celebrate the New Year together! Accommodations at the Indaba Lodge 3* (or similar) in Richards Bay.

Accommodation: Indaba Lodge 3* (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast and dinner


Day 9. January 1, 2023, Sunday. Zulu people

Depart to explore the customs and traditions of the Zulu people in traditional Zululand settlements. We will meet the locals, visit a healer known as a sangoma who helps people through talking to spirits (whoever wants an audience can get an audience).
The Zulu believe that deceased ancestors live in the "unkulunkulu" world and act as mediators between the physical and spiritual worlds, working hand in hand with God. The presence of the ancestors in everyday life manifests itself in the form of dreams, diseases and snakes. Traditional ceremonies are key moments for begging spirits for blessings, good luck or help, making offerings and sacrifices. They are usually held on weekends; so if we are lucky today, we will take advantage of the privilege of being invited to such an event.

Accommodations: Indaba Lodge 3* (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast and dinner

Day 10. January 2, 2023, Monday. Richards Bay - Himville

Breakfast. Transfer to Heimville (4.5 hours). On the way we will stop in Durban, visit the largest Zulu "muti" market, preserving the culture of the tribe in a modern city. Dried monkey, vulture's brain, gaping shark's jaws: locals come here to buy medicine and magic paraphernalia for themselves and their homes.

Accommodation included: Himeville Arms Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast and dinner


Day 11. January 3, 2023, Tuesday. On the Roof of South Africa (LESOTO)

Through the clouds on a steep serpentine trail we make our way in off-road vehicles to the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. Once we reach the top, we stop at the highest pub in Africa to catch our breath and admire the scenery. At the border we go through customs formalities.
We stop at South Africa's highest point, Thabana Ntlenyana, before heading to a remote highland village that preserves Basuto culture; we'll talk to the locals and taste their cuisine; hear local songs and take part in a ceremonial dance.
The Basotho people are one of the few African tribes that live in the highlands; their main occupation is farming and cattle breeding. Along the way we meet people wearing patterned wool blankets and conical hats made of straw and leaves (or animal skins). Such attire is not only meant to protect from heat or cold, but also indicates status.

Accommodation: Himeville Arms Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast and dinner


Day 12. January 4, 2023, Wednesday. Dragon Mountains - Johannesburg
Breakfast. Trekking through the scenic Dragon Mountains, we visit the caves with the richest collection of rock art by the San (Bushmen), the hunter-gatherers who inhabited this region 3,000 years ago. Then transfer to Johannesburg (6 hours driving).

Accommodation: City Lodge 3* hotel in Johannesburg (or similar)
Meals included: breakfast and dinner

Day 13. January 5, 2023, Thursday. Johannesburg - Return flight

Transfer to the airport and flight home.


* Recommended flight from Johannesburg to Moscow:
- Etihad Airways with a connection in Abu Dhabi, departing Johannesburg at 9:35am on January 5, arriving in Moscow at 6:55am on January 6,
- Qatar Airways with a connection in Abu Dhabi, departure from Johannesburg at 1:40 pm on January 5, arrival in Moscow at 8:15 am on January 6,
- by Ethiopian Airlines with connection in Addis Ababa, departure from Johannesburg at 14:10 on January 5 arriving in Moscow at 6:20 am on January 6,
- Or any other flight departing from Johannesburg at any time on January 5.

Accommodation: no
Meals included: breakfast
Cost includes:

  • accommodations along the entire itinerary
  • transfers all along the route
  • professional drivers and local guide services
  • meals according to the program
  • Russian-English speaking guide and team leader for the whole trip
  • all national park fees, entrance fees, access to all attractions
  • support of traditional communities
  • customs and travel taxes



Cost excludes (to be additionally paid):

  • medical insurance
  • international flight to Johannesburg and back
  • South African and Eswatini visas (not required for Russian citizens)
  • Lesotho visa ($ 150, electronic visa. It may not be necessary to obtain it for visiting Lesotho)
  • PCR test before visiting Lesotho and express test at the Lesotho border
  • Meals, which are provided but not included in the price
  • refreshments
  • free time activities and personal expenses
  • tips



To take with:

  • clothing sets appropriate to weather conditions, including light clothing sets (shorts, T-shirts) and warm clothing (sweatshirt, fleece, pants, breathable jacket), as well as long-sleeve shirts
  • thermal underwear
  • hats for different weather conditions: a cap / hat / sun hat and a hat for cold evenings
  • swimsuit
  • raincoat
  • closed-toe trekking boots and comfortable lightweight shoes (sneakers)
  • sleeping-bag for comfort temperature +5/+10 C (at night it can be +3 - +6 in tents)
  • mosquito net
  • personal hygiene products
  • personal medication (including analgesics, antiseptics, antibiotics, antivirals, intestines, multivitamins, regidron, plaster)
  • sun and wind protectors (cream)
  • sunglasses
  • repellents: sprays, creams
  • large backpack for belongings
  • small backpack for radial routes (25-30 liters)
  • headlamp
  • favorite foods (chocolate, nuts)
  • photo and video equipment, extra batteries


    Photo by:
    Arthur Hickinbotham, Jandré van der Walt, Rosan Harmens, Dannii Coughlan, Spekboom-flZsDsLuARc

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